(The Sports Xchange) - The Golden State Warriors built a big early lead and overcame an injury to point guard Stephen Curry to thump the Houston Rockets 104-78 in the opener of the Western Conference first-round series in Oakland, California on Saturday.
Curry, the league’s leading scorer, had 24 points, including 16 in the first quarter, before twisting his right ankle in the second quarter of the Warriors’ 40th win in 42 home dates this season.
The league’s reigning Most Valuable Player went to the locker room for examination just before halftime and returned to play the first 2:47 of the third quarter before Golden State coach Steve Kerr abruptly called a timeout and took his star out of the game.
By that point, Golden State had built a commanding 65-39 lead.
In a rematch of last year’s Western Conference finals, the Warriors hounded Houston into 2-of-13 shooting from the field to begin the game and frustrated the Rockets to the point that point guard Patrick Beverley scuffled briefly with Curry just 5:29 into the game.
Both players received technical fouls.
The Warriors responded like champs, getting two 3-pointers from Curry in a 14-6 burst that broke the game open at 25-10 in the 10th minute.
With Curry single-handedly outscoring the Rockets, the Warriors led 33-15 at quarter’s end, having limited Houston to 6-of-20 shooting from the field.
Holding Houston star James Harden to four points on 2-for-9 shooting from the floor, the Warriors went on to build a 60-33 halftime advantage, but not before getting a scare from Curry.
Attempting to deny Harden on a drive to the hoop, Curry turned his right ankle in the final two minutes of the half in what appeared to be a minor incident.
He missed the final 1:07 of the half, having already burned the Rockets for 24 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the floor, including 5 of 7 from 3-point range.
Game Two will be played in Oakland on Monday. Curry’s participation appears to be in doubt, based on Kerr’s post-game comments.
“I would just say Steph is questionable, so we’ll see how he responds the next couple of days and we’ll go from there,” Kerr said.
Editing by Andrew Both